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All Book Reviews by Genre: Graphic Novels/Manga

Liu, Majorie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I chose this book because comics are a type of novel that I find interest in. This is a fantasy book that takes place where monsters and humans are divided after a war, and monsters who are caught by humans on the other side are used to be sold and experimented on. The main character, Maika, goes on the other side in search for hope of her mother. This is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys comics.

Reviewer's Name: Mona H
House of Women
Goldstein, Sophie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

What happened to the last expedition? Was the last expedition male? Where are the male of the local species? Is Jael the only male in the area? Has he created his own harem of native women, driving off the males with his pheromones?

I found this book on a must read list from NPR for 2017. It looked interesting and had a fascinating synopsis and review. I read it, liked the drawings and wanted to know who “Jael” was from the story. The last interaction between the women is about his criminal history. Aphra asks Sarai what it says and she responds with “It doesn’t matter.” However, I suspect it does, I think it had a direct impact on everything that occurred in the story. The author did a good job of “setting the hook” with that closure. Considering the dream fish sequence, I think it was intentional. As I reread the story a few more times, elements that seemed trivial began to come together and illuminate more of the story. I think it is worth a read, or several reads.

Reviewer's Name: Monique Baker
One Trick Pony
Hale, Nathan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In this creative, futuristic graphic novel all technology has been stolen by a species known as the Pipers. When a young girl and two of her friends stumble into a hidden cache of robots, they become the targets of a wild chase. This book is exciting, unique, and includes a battle in outerspace! Recommended for grades 3-6.

Reviewer's Name: Jenny G.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur BFF Vol. 1
Montclare, Brandon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Lunella Lafayette is smart. Really really smart -- so much so that her parents and middle school classmates struggle to understand her. And as a latent Inhuman exposed to the terragen mists she should start expressing some kind of superpowers any day now. Nothing that being telepathically linked to a giant red Tyrannosaurus won't fix, right? This all ages comic works as the author has genuine respect for the voice and age of its protagonist. While the circumstances of this pairing are a little fantastic, the friendship is very real. This book is a great introduction to the wonder of comics for younger readers, and a great reminder for older ones.

Reviewer's Name: Rebecca O.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up The Marvel Universe!
North, Ryan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

If you have not been following the all-ages meta-fiction joy that is the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, this stand-alone is a great place to start.
Armed with her trademark pluck, empathy, and more references to the Marvel Comics Universe history than you can shake a stick at, the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl faces her most formidable challenge yet: herself! (Well, sort
of.) Great fun from start to finish.

Reviewer's Name: Rebecca O.
Library Wars: Love & War Volume 1
Yumi, Kiiro
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I loved this series. It's a really good imagination of censorship taken to the extreme. Kiiro Yumi really put thought into the character dynamic and the resolution of the series was highly satisfying. In a distant future, the Japanese government starts to ban books they find bad for society, so the libraries must put together a military force in order to defend the right to information. Kasahara has been dreaming of joining this task force since she was in high school and a mysterious member of this task force stopped the Media Betterment Committee from taking a book from her. She dubs this man her "prince" and is on a quest to find him through the Library Forces. The main romances in this story are sweet, but are subtle enough to not totally take over the storyline. I suggest you read this book if you like strong female characters, romance, and fight scenes. Nothing is really explicit in the book, though there are scenes where characters get injured.

Reviewer's Name: Totoro
Ghosts
Telgemeier, Raina
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I really liked this book! I have read a few of Raina's books before, so I found this one and said why don't i try it!

This book is about a girl and her sister, and they have to move to a new city. At this town their are rumors about ghosts.These ghosts live at one special place in the town called, Bahia de la luna. Maya Cat's sister really wants to meet one,though Cat DOES NOT. One year every year the people of that town have a celebration. Remembering their loved one that died. All of the ghosts celebrate with the people. Those people are able to speak to their loved ones and catch on with their beloveds. Maya seeing that they celebrate this makes her think, maybe these ghosts aren't so bad.

Reviewer's Name: Noa
Attack on Titan Vol. 1
Isayama, Hajime
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ever since I discovered this series, I've been hooked. The story is just so interesting and unique. I mean, how many books do you read about man-eating giants destroying society and teenage soldiers fighting them. Not only is the plot interesting, the characters are very well developed and their backstories are very interesting. That being said, there aren't too many backstories, because most of them are dead, but still, the main characters' backstories are really creative and awesome. I have read these books so many times and I am still hooked, even though it sometimes makes me mad (because the characters I like all keep dying). 10/10. Highly recommend if you are okay with violence, blood, guts, and disturbing images.

Reviewer's Name: Eremin
Octavia E. Butler's Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation
Duffy, Damian
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Octavia Butler's Kindred broke so much ground both as a flawless time travel novel and visceral retelling of the slave experience. As an African-American author writing science fiction, her body of work changed the field while winning its top honors -- the Nebula and Hugo awards -- and the author herself was awarded a MacArthur genius grant. This graphic novel is an excellent introduction to her work, and is highly recommended for YA and adult readers alike.

Reviewer's Name: Rebecca
Batman: The Long Halloween
Loeb, Jeph.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Batman: The Long Halloween is a New York Times Best-Selling Classic written and drawn by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. This story is one of the best Batman stories, it will keep you reading with cliffhangers at the end of every chapter. Batman: The Long Halloween tells the story of Batman’s fight against a serial killer named “Holiday.” This enemy kills mostly members of the Falcone family, a wealthy family led by a crimelord trying to hold on to a crumbling empire. The Holiday Killer commits his crimes on every holiday, starting on Halloween and ending on Halloween a year later. The book is action packed, the art is great, and the story is a classic and must read for any Batman fan.

Reviewer's Name: Mason H.
Awards:
Batman: A Death in the Family
Starlin, Jim
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Batman: A Death In The Family is a graphic novel written by authors and artists Jim Starlin, Marv Wolfman, and many others. Batman: A Death In The Family is an insightful, action packed read, with a story that has become a groundbreaking classic in the vast history of Batman.
Batman and and his sidekick Jason Todd are doing their duty to their city and fighting crime to protect others, but Batman comes to notice that Robin has become reckless, with not a care about killing. Due to his behavior, Batman puts Jason off duty. On a quest to find his mother in the meantime, Robin crosses paths with Batman, who is in the same location, but for a different purpose. Together they help each other with their missions, but it all comes at a cost in an action packed ending that leaves Batman with a burden on his shoulders that will haunt him for the rest of his life.
Batman: A Death In The Family kept me reading for hours. The pages are packed with dialogue and action, but the story seems to take its time. The writting and art are brilliany and the twists and challenges Batman face are sure to make you confused in the start, but it all makes sense in the end.
The first and main section of the book is both sorrowful, yet some parts can make you laugh, and the after story provides a change of voice in the book.
This story is a must-read for Batman fans and a great addition to any collection or book shelf. I am glad a read it and I am excited to read the next chapter in the story of Batman.

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Mason H.
Grand Guignol Orchestra Vol. 1
Yuki, Kaori
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Volume one of the Grand Guignol Orchestra was a wild ride. Set in a world where people have begun to be transformed into monstrously possessed doll creature called Guignols, the Unofficial Royal Orchestra travels to allegedly only bring relief to the remaining civilians by performing for them, but they do so much more. The story begins when the Orchestra comes to a town where there are no children besides the crippled young earl, the son of the man who hired the musicians.

I loved this manga because it was a taste of an idea renowned into something new. The character development was so slight, and yet I felt as if I'd known the Orchestra for years. There was an excellent balance of adventure, fear, and comedy implemented into the story, and the only reason I do not rate Grand Guignol Orchestra a 5/5 is because I've only gotten to experience one novel so far. This is an incredible manga for those wanting something frightening and tense, but desiring strong characters as well as a great story.

Reviewer's Name: Julia I. R. H.
Faith Vol. 1: Hollywood & Vine
Houser, Jody
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Faith and the Renegades have just saved the world from a supervillain - but that fight didn't come without a price. The Renegades have now split up and are doing their own thing. Faith's ex, for example, is now starring in his very own reality tv show! Faith herself is posing as a Buzzfeed (ok, Zipline) writer by day whilst saving Los Angeles as a hero named Zephyr by night. Can she juggle a job and saving the city all by her lonesome?

I came into this comic without having read anything at all about the Renegades, and that was fine - you definitely didn't need prior knowledge of the Renegades to enjoy this comic. Faith was extremely likable; I think most readers, especially those of the lady-type variety, would see something of themselves in Faith. The real draw here, for me at least, was that Faith was not just a woman superhero, but a fat woman superhero which, needless to say, is something of a rarity. I really liked the way her body size was treated in the book. Faith is comfortable in her own skin and unapologetic about that to the point where her body size wasn't even really a thing. Which, in this reader's opinion, is how it should be.

The story itself was your standard superhero fare. After an initial mission of SAVING PUPPIES, Faith finds herself looking for other, possibly powered children that have been disappearing from the city. The artwork was really good, though I found it to be quite similar to that of other hero focused graphic novels. Faith has these amazing fantasy/dream sequences, and I preferred the art in those sequences to the main art as it was a bit more whimsical and different. I preferred the cover artist (look at that cover - so cute!) to both.

This would be a great intro to the superhero comic world for those that are interested but haven't given it a try. Otherwise, it was nothing special, but if the superhero genre is your thing, I don't think you'll be disappointed. 3 stars - I liked it!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Awards:
The Wicked + the Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act
Gillen, Kieron
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This series is really a must-read for fans of modern fantasy, mythology and pop culture. The Wicked + the Divine takes place in a world where a phenomenon called the Recurrence occurs every 90 years, causing a Pantheon of twelve deities from across human cultures to awaken within the bodies of young adults, granting them tremendous superhuman abilities. They will be loved, they will be hated, but two years after awakening, they will all be dead. The year is 2014 and the Recurrence has come again, and this new crop of gods blurs the line between the way deities were worshipped in ancient times and the way humankind worships its popular icons in the modern day. Though they are reincarnations of figures from antiquity- Lucifer, Woden, and Minerva, for example- their personas and appearances invoke modern musical icons like Daft Punk, David Bowie and Prince, and their worshippers stalk their instagram feeds and attend sold-out concert-like performances of their miracles.

However, all is not divine within the ranks of the Pantheon. Skeptics dismiss their claims of "godhood" and "miracles" as delusions, hallucinations or special effects, and point to the last Recurrence - which took place during the 1920s - as the product of the same sort of hoax as those performed under the umbrella of Spiritualism during that era. And, these new gods have all the hormones, the petty selfishness and the capriciousness of the teenagers and young adults they used to be, only now they have superhuman powers at their fingertips, and the weight of the knowledge that for all their strength they will all die before two years have passed. The mysterious goddess Ananke, who exists outside the cycle of the Pantheon, is the only being who seems to understand the forces at work behind the Recurrence, and she acts as something of a guiding light for the gods, though a cryptic and guarded one, at best. Into this tumultuous mix enters Laura, our narrator, a god-obsessed superfan who idolizes the Pantheon to the point of distraction. Though Laura wants nothing more in this life than to be a god herself, she settles for attending their tours, buying their merchandise and following them obsessively on social media, getting as close to them as she possibly can. That is, until she unexpectedly befriends the young Lucifer at a concert and finds herself suddenly drawn into the beautiful, deadly and miraculous world of intrigue that surrounds the members of the Pantheon.

This comic is incredible, both in terms of its writing and worldbuilding, and its art, which is both stunning and incredibly consistent. It is also a wonderful example of diversity and inclusiveness in what is, essentially, a superhero comic - Laura is part of a loving biracial family, Lucifer is a polyamorous, genderfluid woman who is a dead ringer for Bowie, and representation of queer characters, women and people of color abound. I collect this comic religiously (hah!) in both its individual issues and its trades, and I really cannot recommend it enough. However, when our rating says M/Mature, we MEAN it. While there isn't much in the way of graphic sexual content, there is some gore, frequent adult language, and a whole lot of adult situations.

Reviewer's Name: Matt H.
Awards:
Swamp Thing: Volume 1, Raise Them Bones
Snyder, Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Swamp Thing: Volume One, Raise Them Bones" is the beginning of Scott Snyder (author) and Yanick Paquette (illustrator)’s visceral, mythic run on the comic, which I recommend heartily to fans of horror/grotesque gothic stories.

Detailing the eternal conflict between the Green (plant life), the Red (animal life) and the Rot that would consume and twist everything, Snyder’s interpretation of Swamp Thing is full of haunting imagery and interesting worldbuilding. Later on, the comic run is taken over by Charles Soule, who does a lovely (albeit very different) job carrying on the story.

For now, though – renowned botanist Alec Holland has been chosen by the Green to shed his humanity and become their knight. Will he go willingly? And what will become of him now that he’s been claimed, whatever he chooses to do?

Warnings:

-- This book is suited for older audiences, in my opinion, and definitely not children. The illustrations are often what one might call “graphic.” Be warned. It is something of a horror comic.
-- If you like this first volume and keep on with the series, just know that during the Rotworld arc, "Swamp Thing" crosses over with Jeff Lemire’s "Animal Man." It may behoove readers to pick up "Animal Man: Volume Three, Rotworld," at least, in order to get a complete look at the story. :)

Reviewer's Name: Kate
Wonder Woman: Volume 1, Blood
Azzarello, Brian
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Real Rating: 4.5, rounded up. 6 stars for the Olympians!! Not so many stars for Orion and some of the other creative choices here regarding Diana's origins (that's personal, though -- you may disagree with me.) BUT THE OLYMPIANS, THOUGH.

Brian Azzarello’s work isn’t always my cup of tea, but I have to say I really appreciate a lot about his recent run on Wonder Woman, beginning with “Wonder Woman Volume One: Blood.” A lot of my appreciation for this comic stems from its creative portrayals of the Greek gods – Dionysus can twist the world as a proper god of madness, Apollo is made out of sizzling magma-ish sun stuff, with an obsidian skin hardened over his fiery insides, and Artemis is literally shaped out of fluid moonlight. It’s gorgeous, and a ton of fun. If you love Greek folklore but have always wanted to see Poseidon represented as a barnacle-crusted sea monster, this may be the perfect series for you. Cliff Chiang's art is also very modern and playful, which fits the optimistic tone of the book perfectly. Diana is fierce and loyal, here, a heroine truly worthy of the name “Wonder Woman.” Some of the characters didn't mesh with me so well (>:( I'm looking at you, Orion!!! Augh!!) but despite that I eagerly awaited every volume of this series as I was reading it, so… Consider it hereby recommended for the fun-factor alone. Watch Hera try ice cream for the first time! Watch Artemis run rampant through a tube station! ALL IN DC COMICS CANON! Yes!

Reviewer's Name: Kate
Awards:
Grayson: Volume 1, Agents of Spyral
Seeley, Tim
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Grayson Volume One: Agents of Spyral" (by Tom King and Tim Seeley, illustrated by Mikel Janin), gifts readers with a remarkable glimpse into Richard Grayson's head. Formerly Robin, formerly Nightwing but CURRENTLY (as of this comic :P) infiltrating a super-secret web of spies at Batman's behest, Grayson of the acrobatics and charming banter has been tossed into an unfamiliar world of misdirection and the coldest of cold scheming. Here, the agency's morally twisted Hypnos implants allow spies to sneak memories and emotions into unsuspecting human minds, as well as alter their own appearances at will. Here, the former Boy Wonder plays at a dangerous balancing act, pretending to be a loyal to his new director -- a man who always technologically blurs out his own face -- even while living by the codes and ideals he learned from Batman on the rooftops of Gotham. At least in Gotham, the rot and criminal horror of things is plastered right there on the surface, and Richard has a decent enough idea who he can trust... And who he, himself, actually is.

I cannot recommend King and Seeley's Grayson run highly enough, to be honest. It's playful and funny one minute, and then genuinely heart-wrenching the next. It might be in part my affection for dear Mr. Grayson as a character, but... Coming from someone who doesn't usually enjoy spy stories, this series is EXCELLENT. I know it won't be everybody's cup of tea, but if you're interested at all in Robin/Nightwing/the guy who can be both sometimes, when it's needed, you might really get into this series.

Reviewer's Name: Kate
Through the Woods
Carroll, Emily
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

“Through the Woods” by Emily Carroll is a comic book collection of whimsically morbid fairy-tales, each mostly self-contained but serving what I would call an important, human theme: the uncanny waits, and surrounds, especially where you wouldn’t expect it. I love the stark yet evocative art throughout this book, and some of the stories did manage to surprise me. I personally love testaments to the monsters under our beds, particularly those intended for adults, and if you do, too, you may carry something interesting away from this collection. At any rate, the art is gorgeous, feeling “classic” even as it’s so unique.

Reviewer's Name: Kate
Batman Volume One: The Court of Owls
Snyder, Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo are each AMAZING in DC's just-ended Batman run, starting with "Batman Volume One: The Court of Owls." Seriously, amazing. These books are morbid and playful, working with Batman's psyche and the twisted fairy-tale that is Gotham in a way I think works really, really well. Bruce Wayne feels fully-realized and complicated, as a character, and a great many of the Bat Family get a chance to shine. I personally love Snyder's take on Batman's ensemble of villains, from the Joker (don't worry, he'll show up soon) to the infamous Crazy Quilt (yes, I'm serious.) The "Court of Owls" introduced in this first volume adds yet another layer of rot to this already twisted city, wonderfully developing both the Wayne family history and Gotham as a symbol. I'll leave you with a nursery rhyme repeated throughout the Court of Owls arc, to give you a feel for what sort of story is waiting for you here: "Beware the Court of Owls, that watches all the time, Ruling Gotham from a shadowed perch, behind granite and lime. They watch you at your hearth, they watch you in your bed. Speak not a whispered word of them, or they'll send the Talon for your head." Come on! If that isn't a recipe for fun Batman shenanigans, I don't know what is. :)

Reviewer's Name: Kate
Awards:
The Vision Vol. 1, Little Worse than a Man
King, Tom
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Writer Tom King and illustrator Gabriel Hernandez Walta come together to make something really unique and thought-provoking in "The Vision Volume One: Little Worse than a Man." Here, Vision of the Avengers is trying to make a human family for himself, tucked into an unsuspecting suburb in Virginia. He used Wanda Maximoff's brainwaves to build himself a wife (because THAT can't possibly go badly, right?) and has combined their code to form two children, Vin and Viv, who will be learning what it is to be an artificial life even while having to attend public school. Despite this potentially sitcom-esque set up, the Vision family presents readers with a very dark, pensive future indeed, full of melancholic narration that borders on poetry. This series is about identity, and good intentions gone horribly awry, and what it is to be human... More, what it is to crave humanity from the outside, crave it so desperately that you will do monstrous things for its sake. (I know that theme might feel a tad overdone, given how often it appears in stories about robots, but I think this comic handles it in a refreshing way. :D)

Anyhow, some of my friends who don't even like comic books waited eagerly for the monthlies on this series as it was coming out... It's definitely atmospheric, and stirring, and sad, though it also features a cheerful robotic puppy and some tongue in cheek dark humor. It's not a HAPPY comic, but it's a valuable one.

Reviewer's Name: Kate

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